Jan Clover Gougeon, of Bay City, Michigan, died Tuesday, December 18, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan at age 67.
1n 1969, Jan founded Gougeon Brothers, Inc. with his brothers Meade and Joel. The company began building boats and iceboats, and found great success in formulating, manufacturing and marketing WEST SYSTEM and PRO-SET epoxies for boat construction and repair.
At age 14 Jan began building boats as an apprentice to master boatbuilder Victor Carpenter, and went on to become an accomplished multihull designer and builder. Over the course of his lifetime he designed Wee Three, Flicka, Splinter, Ollie and Pocket Rocket. In 2012 he launched his groundbreaking 40’ multihull, Strings. He was also a key builder on the multihulls Adagio, Rogue Wave, Slingshot and Adrenalin, as well as the several monohulls including the 1975 Canada’s Cup winner, Golden Dazy.
Racing iceboats and multihull sailboats were Jan’s passions, and he particularly loved sailing solo. His first sailboat race was in 1955 at age 10, and he competed in Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinaw aboard the newly launched, Strings in July, 2012. In 1980 during qualification trials for the OSTAR challenge, Jan’s trimaran Flicka capsized in the Atlantic Ocean. He spent four long days floating in Flicka’s disabled hull before he was rescued by a passing freighter. The next boat Jan designed, Splinter, was self-rescuing, as was every boat he’s designed since.
Jan placed first in the single-handed Port Huron to Mackinac race in 1981, 1982 and 1983 aboard Splinter. Racing his trimaran Ollie, he won the singlehanded Supermac in 1987 and the Great Lakes Singlehanded Society Peter Fisher Memorial Award in 1989. He won the DN Iceboat World Gold Cup Championships four times, the North American DN Iceboat Championship eight times, and won the DN Great Cup of Siberia Race in Russia in 1989. He competed annually in the Bayview Yacht Club’s Port Huron to Mackinac Race, the Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinaw and the 300-mile Florida Everglades Challenge.
Burial at sea will take place privately with the family at a future date.
My realization of what Jan and Meade were doing for our sport became clear in 1979 when I opened up a copy of Multihulls magazine (still printed on that weird textured paper back then…) and saw an article on the construction of Slingshot.
In the same issue was a writeup on the wind turbine blades they were building, and how exacting they had to be.
That issue cemented (glued!) my passion for multihulls to my soul, and for his part in that, I thank Jan profusely.
Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.